On the Topic Of: The Future of Blogging

There’s a lot of times I sit around and wonder why my writing and podcasting never caught on with a bigger audience and why I never got offered something from a bigger conglomerate. A lot of that self-doubt contributed to my long layoffs and overall dissatisfaction with writing and talking. The talking part has been revitalized and with the recent happenings at SB Nation, kinda dodged a bullet on that front.

If you didn’t know, you can check Awful Announcing, Posting and Toasting, or anyone of the uniformed posts that the SBN NHL sites put up for more details. In talking with FOHS co-host JonnyP, he noted that this is the beginning and it’s going to get worst before it gets better.

Blogging is a vicious cycle. You start off independently and work hard to get any kind of notoriety from it because you think it’ll lead to bigger things. Some times it does and some times it doesn’t. If it doesn’t happen, a bit of confidence is lost and you adjust and adapt your goals. If it does, you get a bigger audience and more notoriety, but not necessarily the money you’d think you’d be making. So, you work harder thinking that the amount you churn out, the more higher-ups will notice and will pay you more or at all. Yet, in this case, we see that even if you work your heart out and give the best content you think you can put out there– it’s still not enough.

I’ve been lucky to get paid for blogging for a season, which was a daily thing for FHM Online back in 2005-06. Then FHM got bought out and I was out of a job. Never got much of a notification, it just happened and it’s done with. Luckily, I was 22 and life goes on and maybe thought it could happen again. But then life happens and you don’t invest in yourself because you have a family and you have to make a living in something concrete rather than in hopes of making it bigger and better.

While it sucks that people are losing their jobs, that’s the nature of how things are going– especially with sites that exploit writers and their content for the exposure brass ring they dangle out there. It’s going to get worse before it gets better as more states catch onto these stunts. A lot of contributors will be out of their regular gigs because of it and will have to find spots elsewhere, on their own, or just leave the writing scene altogether.

That’s the shitty part. Good people with good insight will lose gigs because they aren’t getting the payment they feel they deserve. So, if a writer you like has some kind of tip jar, maybe toss them a couple bucks and help them out because they’re the technological starving artist out there.

TEPID TAKE: Wheeler's Record Reminds Winnipeg Fans They Were Once Thrashers

Photo via Winnipeg Free Press

It took seven years, but finally a player who actually played for the Winnipeg Jets now hold the franchise record for points, as Blake Wheeler surpassed Ilya Kovalchuk’s record of 615 points. Wheeler took 81 more games to do it, but he did have some carryover from when he played for the Atlanta Thrashers before they moved.

Now, more than ever, we need Kovalchuk on the Jets to battle it out with Wheeler for points. At least Kovalchuk still leads the all-time goals for the team by 111 goals over Bryan Little, as well as most goals in a season with 52– twice.

The interesting thing is how much the Jets are celebrating it now, even though the Thrashers history is not really promoted; mostly due to the Atlanta Spirit LLC. still holding the rights to the name and all the iconography with it. Plus, I don’t think the Thrashers name or history– outside of the rookies they were able to produce– is much to crow about. The Devils don’t tout the Rockies or Scouts all that much and there’s no reason they should have either.

But the Jets Centric Podcast had an interesting thread they put up on Sunday (FOUND RIGHT HERE) that’s really telling of where people in Winnipeg really stand when it comes to the Atlanta history. And if memory serves, I don’t think there was a big countdown for when Wheeler was to break Kovalchuk’s mark– but I’m sure I’m wrong in that.

With the lack of ties to Atlanta in Winnipeg, it’s easy to forget where they came from. When you go up to Winnipeg, there’s not much of a trace of the Thrashers history in the MTS Centre that I’ve seen at all. You’d think they’d want to be happy a team in the south fell or else they’d still be lobbying for an expansion team when other US markets are getting it.

Jets fans started their erasing of the Thrashers at the 2011 Draft when they were yelling down at people wearing Thrashers jersey, whether ironically or not, and just being jackasses to anyone and everyone. I get the hype behind getting a team back, but to do it in the face of people who just lost a team– not cool. They sure forget about how they felt when the actual Jets moved to Phoenix real quick when it comes to that.

In any case, the Jets are now seven wins away from tying the Thrashers win mark and I hope Bob Hartley and Curt Fraser are there to help usher the passing of the win torch to Paul Maurice.

Clutch N' Crab Hockey Weekend Preview 014

MARYLAND BLACK BEARS (13-13-4) vs. WILKES-BARRE SCRANTON KNIGHTS

After a huge three-win weekend in Maine, the Black Bears return home for their last series before a small winter break against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights, a team that’s just a single point ahead of them in the standings.

Last weekend, the Black Bears probably played their most complete weekend of hockey in recent memory. They were able to control the pace of the game for the majority of the three games, they got solid goaltending and defense, while their scoring was clicking in a big way. The team’s dynamic seemed to be on full display with everyone on the roster contributing– even if it wasn’t on the scoresheet.

This weekend is the third meeting between the Bears and Knights, with Maryland holding the lead in the series at 3-1, though it’s been almost two months since their last meeting against each other. Obviously a lot has changed, but the matter at hand for each team is to sweep the weekend and have some kind of breathing room going into the second half of the season.

For Maryland, the key is to keep that solid defensive momentum from the Maine series over into the rest of the year. There were very minimal turnovers or bad breakouts that series, which is something they haven’t always done this season. Both Andrew Takacs and Cooper Black were fantastic when called upon, letting up only four goals in the entire three-game series. More over than that, the addition of Mikhael Gonchar has seemingly helped the defense on both sides of the puck, while Logan Kons and Hampus Rydqvist continue to be the anchors of that blue line.

On the offensive side, Jackson Sterrett has been emerging as the top producer for this team. With East Division Star of the Week honors, the Tennessee native has honed his game into an even more well-rounded setting. It also shows the trust that the coaching staff has in him with placing him in every kind of role imaginable to help him succeed, which includes the penalty kill– earning him three short-handed goals in the season. Not to be outdone, Brayden Stannard and Kyle Oleksiuk have been fantastic as complimentary options for the offense. Both have come up with key goals in the last couple weeks, while also showing a ton of grit in the offensive style. Add that to Andrew Remer and Ethan Heidepriem being solid in the face-off dot and around the puck and you’ve got a top-12 that has every facet of game play ready to move ahead and committed to being there for each other.

The Knights have been a streaky team of sort this season, winning two of three this past week, while being 5-3-2 in their last ten. Both Lincoln Hatten and Tyrone Bronte seemingly love to play against the Black Bears, as Hatten has three goals and an assist already this year against Maryland, while Bronte may not be scoring as much (two assists), but is a thorn in the side on his forecheck. One of the biggest things for Maryland is continuing to pepper the goaltending in Zach Stejskal and Alex Contey, whom they’ve score 19 goals in the series so far. Keeping the Knights on their heels is going to be the top priority in making sure they can’t dictate pace.

And if you’re in the area, go to the Maryland Black Bears website to get some tickets and support your local team. Tell ’em Scotty Wazz sent you and some people ask, “Who??” and others will say, “How’s he doing these days?? Does he know about the second rink??”

Hall and 'Yotes

NEWARK, NJ – DECEMBER 06: New Jersey Devils left wing Taylor Hall (9) during the second period of the National Hockey League game between the New Jersey Devils nd the Chicago Blackhawks on December 6, 2019 at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire)

We all knew Taylor Hall was going to be traded this year, we didn’t know it’d be to Arizona of all places. Not only that, but the Devils didn’t get too much to help them in the short-term and some people thinking Ray Shero got a little fleeced in this one.

But in all honesty, the match could be a great fit overall. The Coyotes needed someone like Hall in their line-up to be an offense creator. The Coyotes are 24th in the NHL in goals-for and while their power-play is in the top-10, you can’t go wrong getting a former MVP onto the roster. More over, this is a move that could help spark Phil Kessel’s output, which has been lacking a little due to no playmakers being up to the Kessel caliber of play. The Coyotes are surprising enough this season being third in the west and getting solid performances from Darcy Kuemper in net and Conor Garland being their offensive dynamo; but adding Hall just ups the value of this team– especially at this point in the season where there’s still time for Hall to adjust to Rick Tocchet’s style in Arizona.

Yet, looking at the Devils…this was not a great deal. You know they had to move Hall to get something for the future; but you’d also like to get something for today, too. Not many people think the return will be much of anything outside of the draft picks, but you never know how the picks and players will turn out. This move really doesn’t address the bigger issue of the Devils, which is their goaltending. Sure, MacKenzie Blackwood has been better than some of the options the Devils have, but that doesn’t say much overall.

This does, however, open the way for the younger Devils to really show their muster. Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes are now the face of the team more than ever, while the older crew up front in Wayne Simmonds, Kyle Palmieri, and Blake Coleman are going to have to be offensive mentors to these talented players. But wouldn’t you have liked to have Hall be with these former top picks and guide them through the peaks and valleys through his first-hand experiences??

There will be instant results in Arizona because they have a known commodity in Taylor Hall; they got a piece that could be the big thing missing not only for their team, but for their other acquired star player, and they are making a push to be a desirable spot outside of the climate to be. For New Jersey– it’ll take some years, if it ever happens for them when it comes to the results of this deal. But they’ll always have that one year, they’ll always have 2017-18.

Clutch N' Crab Weekend Preview 013

MARYLAND BLACK BEARS (10-13-4) at MAINE NORDIQUES

It was a rough weekend last weekend for the Black Bears, as bad breaks and untimely turnovers haunted them against Jamestown. However, they’re meeting the Nordiques for the first time in franchise history, so it should be a hoot– especially for a three-game weekend such as this one. If the Black Bears are going to be successful is to find a way to convert on those scoring chances, especially since Maine has given up the most goals in the East Division. Conspicuous by the absence of one of the league’s top scorers on their roster, Maryland will need to band together moreso than usual in order to get back on a consistent winning track.

TEAM MARYLAND (14-13-2) at NEW YORK APPLECORE

A bit of a downspell for TM, who are coming off another couple of losses at this latest Showcase this week, but after a four-game win streak, they’re hit with a four-game losing streak. With only three games before the year-end break, TM needs to find some kind of extra gear to end 2019. They’ll have to do it without Denys Arkhypenko, who is representing Ukraine in the World Junior Division 1B tournament going on in Kyiv. TM will finish out their calendar year with two more games in New Jersey Wednesday and Thursday, as well.

STEVENSON UNIVERSITY MUSTANGS ACHA (7-8-0) at ROWAN UNIVERSITY

After a quick start to the season, the Green Horses have kind of simmered down, though the trip to Europe may have been a good thing and maybe a bad thing for last week and the lag that comes with it. That said, they have a chance to finish out strong with a battle against an undefeated Rowan team, hoping to pin them with their first loss. One of the biggest attributes for the Mustangs is their ability to score with a various amount of players with 13 players having a goal and six having five or more. The biggest thing would be keeping it out of the goal, as the team doesn’t have a goalie with under a 4.00 GAA, though Pierce Dushenko has come up huge for this team in key moments this season.

San Jose Ex-Coaching Staff Jumped By the Sharks

Doug Wilson burned pretty much the entire coaching staff by firing head coach Pete DeBoer, assistant coaches Steve Spott, Dave Barr, and Johan Hedberg; but kept Bob Boughner– who was named interim coach. Fans who have been vocal about DeBoer get their scapegoat wish, while Wilson will see what kind of fire this lights under this very under performing team.

DeBoer was a defensive minded coach, but with Martin Jones and Aaron Dell being tire fires in net and according to some advanced stats– the worst (Dell) and third worst (Jones) goalies in the entire league, it didn’t help DeBoer’s cause. The defense itself is a great as helping scoring, but helping prevent it is another thing, as they’ve let in the second most goals in the league at the time of this writing. Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson aren’t lighting the world on fire, though the latter has been better as the season’s gone on. Then on offense– there’s Logan Couture, Evander Kane, and allegedly Joe Thornton is still play– though I’ve only seen a husk of what used to be Thornton on the ice picking fights with goalies and former Stanley Cup champions.

Is Pete DeBoer a bad coach?? I’m sure it’s as subjective as it seems. He went to the Stanley Cup twice, but has missed the playoffs in six of his 11 coaching seasons in the NHL. Some will say he’s a good asset, others will damn his name. After the initial blast of spirited enthusiasm, he seems like a guy who has a voice that would run it’s course very quickly, especially in a room of veteran players. You know things are bad when this is the first time Doug Wilson has fired a coach mid-season in his eternal tenure as Sharks GM.

Will Bob Boughner be the savior of the season?? Probably not. In fact, he’s picking up in a situation that he left off at in Florida– shotty goaltending and defense that leaves a lot to be desired in their own zone. Could he just be a lame duck for the short-term?? Maybe, but this could be a second-wind for him and maybe with talent around him, the team could actually start living up to potential.

Which they better do because there’s not many trades to be made to make this team better due to the tight salary cap they have and lack of anything on the horizon from the AHL to help them out. But with a voice change, could mean a style change and the offense actually taking off and the players who feel like they’ve held back finally breaking through.

It remains to be seen how this will play out, because it’s an audition for Boughner, who could be out the door by the end of the year because he couldn’t get this team going– but it also marks the fifth coach who has been fired this year. Granted, three were because of them being idiots and messing with their players or putting the team’s good name in a bad spot, but the media made sure to let you know this DeBoer firing was purely hockey related, no off-ice stuff, no abuse– just not getting the job done.

Maybe Liberty University Can Make the Jump to NCAA D1 Hockey

Photo via Liberty.edu

When I had time this weekend, I was able to check out some ACHA hockey between Stevenson University and Liberty University at Liberty’s rink in Lynchburg, Virginia. The rink they had, the production they had, and the support the teams have are amazing. It makes you think that if their close to 4,000-seat arena would be suited to make a jump to the NCAA level– most likely on the D1 stage.

A bit of history on Liberty’s club team– they started in 1985 and actually house five club teams, the only school in the ACHA to do so. They have a D1, D2, and D3 men’s team, while they also have D1 and D2 teams for the women’s side. All five teams have winning records this season, with the D1 and D2 men being ranked in the top-six, while both women’s teams are ranked 1st in the nation, with the D1 side being back-to-back National Champions. While it is club hockey, those numbers shouldn’t be one to scoff at regardless of the level of play.

The school is very well funded. With an endowment of $1.43B– which ranks in the top 100 of universities in North America, there’s plenty of money to be able bring their men’s D1 and women’s D1 to the big stage of the NCAA hockey and be somewhat successful. One of the big hiccups would be trying to get top recruits to get accepted to the school, as well as having them be able to adhere to the code that the school has for its students, much akin to what Brigham Young University has.

Of course, the biggest question is where they would play at, as Lynchburg isn’t all that close to many places that already play. Robert Morris and Penn State would probably be the closest rivals. You’d have to think that with the Alaska teams in trouble and the WCHA apparently falling apart in slow motion, it’d be perfect for Atlantic Hockey to pick up Liberty and maybe even Alabama-Huntsville. That’s if they want to take that risk and move their footprint down the coast and over to the South. That said, friggin’ Air Force is in Atlantic Hockey, so why wouldn’t they want to take the chance?? Not only that, but Liberty would fit right in, as nine of the 11 teams in the conference are private schools.

On the women’s side, they’d probably be able to slide into College Hockey America, with Penn State and Robert Morris being the closest rivals, as well as having Lindenwood University in Missouri being a little outlier for them. Since it is a women’s only conference– it would be a good fit for the Lady Flames to side into should they want to make the jump.

It would be another step for club teams to move up to D1, with Penn State and Arizona State making those jumps in the last decade. It’s a school that would draw a lot of eyes from an area that NCAA hockey doesn’t have a foothold in already, while also maybe counteracting things that could happen should teams have to fold into itself due to budget cuts.

The money is there, the groundwork for success is there, the arena is there– all it needs is to actually make the jump and move forward with it. Might it be an odd choice to take a team from Southwest Central Virginia into the D1 fold?? Sure, as purist would call it a non-traditional market. Yet, at the same time– the exposure top-tier college hockey to that area could create more youth hockey players in the area who want to aspire to play that level, thus helping the future crop grow for the rest of the NCAA.

Clutch N' Crab Hockey Weekend Preview 012

MEN’S SIDE

MARYLAND BLACK BEARS (10-11-4) vs. JAMESTOWN REBELS

It’ll be a big weekend for the Black Bears both on and off the ice, as the Teddy Bear Toss is on Friday with the Military Appreciation Night on Saturday. Even with the pomp and circumstance, the Black Bears need to look at taking four points this weekend after coming up short last weekend. With third through seventh in the division only separated by seven points, every point matters and the Black Bears know that they should bank up all the points they can for a possible rainy day down the line.

TEAM MARYLAND (14-9-2) at PHILADELPHIA REVOLUTION

After a weekend off, Team Maryland is back at it again; carrying a four-game winning streak into this weekend with the Revolution. TM will look to avenge a sweep at the Revolution from earlier in the season. With the team growing each game and maturing as a group, it’ll be easy for TM to get even with the Revolution from what happened earlier in the season.

STEVENSON UNIVERSITY MUSTANGS MEN’S D3 (7-1-0)vs. UTICA COLLEGE, NAZARETH COLLEGE

Riding a five-game winning streak, the Mustangs are looking to close out their semester with only having lost one. Having scored five or more goals in the last four games, the Mustangs have the fire power and have been fairly solid defensively, less last weekend’s hiccup against St. Norbert where they gave up five goals in the the win. A well-balanced team will hopefully keep the Mustangs rolling along.

TOWSON UNIVERSITY TIGERS MEN (2-15-1) vs. GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY, at PSU-BERKS

It hasn’t been the best start to the season for Towson, but this weekend could be interesting considering they’re (according to the ACHA website) are taking on a D3 team in George Mason and a team in PSU-Berks that has had a rough a season as they have. If they can end the year on a high note, it’ll do wonder for confidence going into the second half of the season and hopefully beyond.

STEVENSON UNIVERSITY MUSTANGS CLUB (7-7-0) at LIBERTY UNIVERSITY

After a successful trip to Europe, the Mustangs will head down to another tough task in playing Liberty. With Liberty being a top team in the D2 side, you can bet that the experience and chemistry the Mustangs developed in Europe will need to be carried over on the road and against the task in front of them. Dealing with pros in Europe should harden up the team in the long-run and hopefully push them through the rest of the way.

NAVAL ACADEMY MIDSHIPMEN (2-9-0) vs. GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY, ROWAN UNIVERSITY

After what felt like an eternity, the D2 Middies are back in action to end their semester at home. While it has been a rough ride, the Mids do have plenty of pride to play for and should have gotten enough rest between games to make sure they are crisp and ready for the last two games before another long break.

WOMEN’S SIDE

STEVENSON UNIVERSITY MUSTANGS D3 WOMEN’S (4-3-2) vs. ENDICOTT COLLEGE

A tough break in the Codfish Bowl championship game last week may make the Mustangs out for some revenge on the Endicott team this weekend. As this team comes together more and more, the Mustangs look to get a very solid showing offensively, while they rely heavily on their goaltending to bail out some so-so defensive issues. While they should be able to be fixed easily, Annie Smyth-Hammond and Annika Carlander have been stellar in those small lapses.

LOYOLA UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GREYHOUNDS (6-3-0) at WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY

With a solid showing in the DVCHC Showcase, the Greyhounds are looking forward to a big series in West Virginia. Loyola only has six games left, including this weekend set– which means they’ll need every win possible and could have a good chance of being in every game from this point onward. It’s just a matter of keeping it close when needed and hoping it doesn’t blow up going the other way.

UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND TERRAPINS (9-4-0) at UNIVERSITY OF DELAWARE

They have not played well away from home, but the Terps will need to get this win because they only have three games remaining including this one. With a lot of points banked up early, they should be in a good spot for the South Division of the DVCHC, but they will have Loyola on their tails and the Greyhounds have games in hand. Every win will matter, especially with almost two months off.

TOWSON UNIVERSITY TIGERS (1-9-0) vs. UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA

Towson is in the same spot as Maryland with only three games remaining and a month off after this game. However, Towson hasn’t been all that great, but it’s a growing team. They got their first win in years, they’ve got a solid crop of players in their line-up, and they’re out there giving their heart even in lopsided games as they’ve had this year. Gotta respect that.